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Off the Shelf

Recent books with Harvard connections

May-June 2009

Yucky Pollution, Shiny Pretty, 2001, Hilltop Children’s Center, Seattle. From <em>Can Poetry Save the Earth?</em>

Yucky Pollution, Shiny Pretty, 2001, Hilltop Children’s Center, Seattle. From Can Poetry Save the Earth?

Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy '68, Ph.D. '75 (Harvard, $29.95). As she demonstrated in Mother Nature, the author (professor of anthropology emerita at the University of California, Davis) makes the enigmatic compellingly clear, beginning with the "Apes on a Plane" chapter that compares the "nods and resigned smiles" of human passengers on a cramped flight with the "bloody earlobes and other appendages" that would litter the aisles if chimpanzees were flying instead.

 

Courtesy of the Royal Geographical Society

Dr. Rice's 1924-25 expedition included a machine that would revolutionize exploration: the airplane.

Courtesy of Steve Luxenberg and Hyperion Books

The author's mother, from the book Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by David Grann (Doubleday, $27.50). A New Yorker writer traces Colonel Percy Fawcett's 1925 disappearance as he searched for a fabled civilization-and his rivalry with Alexander Hamilton Rice, A.B. 1898, M.D. 1904, explorer, Peabody Museum curator, and post-Titanic husband of Eleanor Widener, who used her fortune to fund competitive archaeological expeditions.

 

Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret, by Steve Luxenberg '74 (Hyperion, $22.99). In a memoir-cum-investigation, a Washington Post editor discovers, after his mother's death, the suppressed story of her sister, who was confined to a mental institution from the age of 21.

 

The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care, by Clayton M. Christensen, Cizik professor of business administration, the late Jerome H. Grossman, G '77, M.D., and Jason Hwang, M.B.A. '06 (McGraw-Hill, $24.95). The innovation theorist and consultant, with colleagues, argues for wholesale changes in medical practice and organization, with strong doses of new technology and new business models, rather than attempts to achieve incremental reform.

 

Can Poetry Save the Earth? A Field Guide to Nature Poems, by John Felstiner '58, Ph.D. '65 (Yale, $35). From the Psalms to Gary Snyder, the author, professor of English at Stanford, interprets Anglo-American poetry attuned to nature, and assesses its ability to awaken readers to better stewardship of the planet.

 

How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment, by Michèle Lamont, Goldman professor of European studies and professor of sociology and of African American studies (Harvard, $27.95). How do scholars, dedicated to excellence, originality, and quality in academia, judge the work of peers from different disciplines in awarding fellowships or research grants? Lamont, who now advises the Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean on appointments and diversity, probes behind the veil in a unique way, from a sociological perspective.

 

Fighting Cancer with Knowledge and Hope, by Richard C. Frank '85 (Yale, $28). A physician and cancer researcher offers a guide to the disease, to its diagnosis, and to therapies for patients, families, and--importantly--the healthcare providers who help them.